The beautiful and prized aquamarine gemstone takes its name from the Latin term meaning water of the sea. Characterized by a pale blue or turquoise color that resembles ocean waters on a sunny day, aquamarine is mined in Russia, Sri Lanka and Brazil and has even been discovered in the United States in Colorado and Wyoming.
In addition to symbolizing the best gift a couple can receive on their 19th wedding anniversary, the aquamarine is also sought after as the birthstone for those born during the month of March. There is superstition and lore associated with aquamarine, which is honored as the favorite of the sea god Neptune. Sailors often wore this gem when on the high seas, as a protection against storms and other nautical dangers.
A member of the beryl family of minerals, aquamarine has an extremely hard surface which makes it a great gem to use in jewelry ranging from rings and pendants to bracelets. Many favor giving a gift of aquamarine to a loved one, particularly a spouse or romantic partner, because of its association with safety and security.
When shopping for an aquamarine, ask your jeweler if the stone has been chemically treated or altered in some way using irradiation, heat or dyes; these procedures may dramatically alter the value of the stone. Although dark blue aquamarine stones are the most sought after and expensive, many buyers prefer to select their aquamarine based on personal color preferences, as these gems can range in color from light turquoise blue to blue-green. Stones which exhibit a green tint are the least desirable and the least expensive.
Check the stone under consideration for any flaws or inclusions, which may not be visible to the naked eye due to the fact that most aquamarine gems exhibit a pale color which can mask imperfections. The cut of an aquamarine is certainly a factor in determining its value. A perfectly cut stone features facets that are even and symmetrical, allowing the brilliance of the stone's color to really shine through. No matter in which direction you turn a perfectly cut aquamarine or from what angle it is viewed, there should be a colorful sparkle evident, the mark of a valuable stone.
Color and clarity are the most important characteristics by which to judge an aquamarine, followed by size. If you discover a very large aquamarine of more than 10 carats with intense blue color, you have discovered a very rare find, as larger stones are not as available and the color of larger stones tend to be pale rather than intense.